For­mer Tesco chiefs ‘cooked books’ says QC

Court: Three deny fraud af­ter profit scan­dal wiped £2bn off share value

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS - BY CATHERINE WYLIE

Three for­mer Tesco ex­ec­u­tives are ac­cused of “cook­ing the books” in a scan­dal which wiped £2bil­lion off its to­tal share value and sent “shock­waves” through the stock mar­ket.

Carl Rog­berg, 50, Chris Bush, 51, and John Scouler, 49, are al­leged to have been in­volved in a “white-col­lar crime” in which they failed to cor­rect in­ac­cu­rately recorded in­come fig­ures.

The su­per­mar­ket’s for­mer fi­nance chief, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and food com­mer­cial head, who are charged with fraud by abuse of po­si­tion and false ac­count­ing be­tween Fe­bru­ary and Septem­ber 2014, were in­ves­ti­gated af­ter Tesco was found to have in­flated its prof­its. The re­tail giant made an an­nounce­ment to the stock mar­ket in late 2014, stat­ing it had pre­vi­ously over-es­ti­mated its prof­its by around £250mil­lion, South­wark Crown Court heard.

Sasha Wass QC told the jury: “This fraud case when boiled down to its essence amounts – crudely speak­ing – to cook­ing the books, or what lawyers call false ac­count­ing.”

Ju­rors heard about the prac­tice of “pulling for­ward”, which she said was “Tesco short­hand” for bring­ing for­ward fu­ture in­come to ar­ti­fi­cially in­flate the fig­ures of the present. She said: “You can see that the prob­lem, as time passes, just spi­rals out of con­trol.”

Rog­berg, of Chis­el­hamp­ton, Ox­ford­shire, Bush, of High Wy­combe, Buck­ing­hamshire, and Scouler, of St Albans, Hert­ford­shire, all deny the charges.

The trial con­tin­ues.

“The prob­lem, as time passes, just spi­rals out of con­trol”

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